It almost happened again to Daniel Cormier.
After being scheduled to defend his light heavyweight title against Volkan Oezdemir on Jan. 20 at UFC 220, Cormier’s plans nearly hit a snag through no fault of Cormier’s own when Oezdemir was arrested last month for allegedly knocking out an individual in a Florida bar room brawl. The situation was all too familiar for “DC,” a champion who’s rivalry with Jon Jones was infamously derailed multiple times due to Jones’ many indiscretions.
Fortunately for Cormier, this time around, things worked out. The UFC permitted Oezdemir to compete on Jan. 20 despite his pending legal trouble. But even if things didn’t work out and the UFC pulled Oezdemir from the fight, Cormier wasn’t going to let himself get too upset after having been burned countless times before.
“I just kinda was like, just move onto the next guy,” Cormier said Monday on The MMA Hour. “If it’s going to be somebody else, it’s going to be somebody else. I really don’t have any energy anymore for all these guys’ extracurriculars anymore. If you’re going to go to jail, go to jail — who gives a damn? If you’re going to get yourself in trouble, you get yourself in trouble. I didn’t do it. Whatever. I’ll just go onto the next guy. I’m not going to deal with that anymore.
“I feel like I have lost years of my life dealing with the sh*t with Jones, in terms of the arguments, the fighting, the worry, whether we’re going to fight, when we’re going to fight. I’ve lost a lot of time and energy just wasted on things that were out of my control. So if Volkan Oezdemir goes to jail, if Alexander Gustafsson does something and gets himself put in trouble, I’ll just move onto the next one. That’s what it’s going to constantly be for me. At this point, they’re all faceless until fight night, whenever we’re standing across the Octagon from each other. It’s just a name, and whoever that name happens to be is who I’m going to fight.”
Regardless of what happens, UFC 220 will be a big moment for Cormier, as it will be his first fight as champion again since the fiasco that was UFC 214.
Cormier suffered a brutal third-round knockout at the hands of Jones at UFC 214, however the win was quickly overturned into a no contest after it was revealed that Jones tested positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol in a pre-fight drug screening. As a result, Jones was subsequently stripped of the UFC light heavyweight title and Cormier was reinstated as champion, marking the second time since 2015 that Cormier captured the belt after Jones was stripped.
Once the dust settled, “DC” admitted that he didn’t “feel completely secure” in being called the division’s champion, given the nature of the knockout he suffered in his rematch against Jones. Cormier acknowledged that feeling would likely persist until he was able to fight his next fight and climb back into the win column — and his sentiments haven’t changed in the months since.
“My mentality hasn’t changed in that sense,” Cormier said.
“On July 29th, I was there. I was in the Octagon on July 29th in Anaheim, and it was going all so good until it wasn’t anymore, and I lost the fight. So that has not changed. So I need to go out and fight against Volkan Oezdemir and beat this guy to feel like myself again. I feel like there is a stench on me. It’s almost like I got pissed on by a skunk, and I just stink everywhere I go. So until I can get a really, really good bath … to get the stink off of me by beating Volkan Oezdemir, I’ll feel as I do right now. That’s just me. I’m a competitor, man. I know I lost that fight. I can’t erase that memory. I still have nightmares.”
Asked to elaborate on his “nightmares” comment, Cormier compared his experiences with Jones to other setbacks he’s dealt with over his sporting career — all of which stay with the two-time Olympian despite his many successes.
“Listen, I still dream about losing to Cael Sanderson in the NCAA finals,” Cormier said. “I still dream about losing the Olympic semifinals. I still dream about losing to Jon Jones twice. For people like me, the loses don’t really go away. They don’t fade with time. They just stay with you, and they are what motivates you. That’s kinda crazy, but that’s just who I am, and I think that’s what makes me who I am, and that’s what makes me able to do the things that I’ve done over the course of my life, is that — losses don’t leave. They just kinda stay with me. I’ve been like that my entire life.”